Manchester City will be aiming to take a step closer to retaining the FA Cup when they take on Newcastle United in the quarter-final at St. James’ Park.

After having yielded their Premier League title to Liverpool earlier this week, Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City will be aiming to make it to the final four of the FA Cup, when they face off against Newcastle United at St. James’ Park on Sunday evening.

Newcastle United had to rely on replays in the third and fourth rounds of the competition, against lower league sides Rochdale and Oxford United, before they got past West Bromwich Albion 2-3 in the previous stage. They are unbeaten since the restart of the season, beating Sheffield United before holding Aston Villa to a draw last time out.

Manchester City, on the other hand, eased past Port Vale and Fulham in the early stages of the FA Cup. They were made to work hard by Sheffield Wednesday in the Round of 16. Having been in rampant form after the restart, Pep Guardiola’s side lost to Chelsea in midweek and will be aiming to bounce back strongly on Sunday.

The two teams have played once earlier this season, in the Premier League, back in November, with the game ending in a 2-2 draw. Ahead of the crunch cup tie on Sunday evening, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both the teams.

Team News & Tactics

Newcastle United

Can Steve Bruce mastermind an upset against Manchester City? (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

Can Steve Bruce mastermind an upset against Manchester City? (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

Newcastle United have a number of injury concerns heading into the big game against Manchester City on Sunday. Manager Steve Bruce will be sweating over the availability of key midfielders Jonjo Shelvey and Isaac Hayden, while Matt Ritchie is also a doubt. All three will be subject to late fitness tests on Sunday.

Ciaran Clark and Florian Lejeune are ruled out for the tie, while Nabil Bentaleb is suspended for the game, having picked up two bookings in the FA Cup. But. Bruce will be boosted by the return of the Longstaff brothers, Sean and Matty. Expect Bruce to set out his strongest team on Sunday as he looks to advance further in the competition.

First-choice goalkeeper Martin Dubravka should start ahead of Karl Darlow, who has been the designated goalkeeper in cup ties. The four-man defence should comprise of Javier Manquillo and Danny Rose as the full-backs, while Jamaal Lascelles and Federico Fernandez pair up at the centre.

Shelvey, even if he is not 100% fit, should feature in the middle of the park on Sunday. He could very likely be partnered by the returning Sean Longstaff if Hayden fails his fitness test. The flanks ought to be taken up by Miguel Almiron and Allan Saint-Maximin, although Valentino Lazaro is also an option for the manager.

The partnership of Dwight Gayle and Andy Carroll seemed to work well in the last game and could be given the nod on Sunday, with Joelinton for backup.

Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Dubravka; Manquillo, Fernandez, Lascelles, Rose; Almiron, Shelvey, Longstaff, Saint-Maximin; Carroll, Gayle

Manchester City

Manchester City, too, have a number of issues to contend with, as Fernandinho is suspended after his red card against Chelsea, while Sergio Aguero is ruled out, having undergone a knee surgery. Phil Foden, Eric Garcia, Joao Cancelo and John Stones are all doubts for the contest as well.

Fernandinho is suspended for Manchester City (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Fernandinho is suspended for Manchester City (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Guardiola will definitely rotate some of his players with a game against Liverpool coming up. So, there is a strong likelihood of Claudio Bravo starting in goal, as he has done in the past cup matches.

Kyle Walker should continue at right-back because of Cancelo’s potential unavailability, while Oleksandr Zinchenko is almost certain to start at left-back after Benjamin Mendy’s disaster-class last time out. Aymeric Laporte was taken off early in midweek and should feature on Sunday. He is likely to be partnered by Argentine Nicolas Otamendi.

Rodri is another player who was subbed off before 90 minutes against Chelsea, indicating that he is likely to start in midfield against Newcastle. Partnering him will be captain David Silva, while Kevin De Bruyne should also start, given how ineffective City look without him.

Gabriel Jesus was a surprise omission from the starting XI last time out, but should return against the Tynesiders. Riyad Mahrez should once again get the nod on the right flank, while we could see Leroy Sane make his first start after his lengthy injury layoff, on the left.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Bravo; Walker, Otamendi, Laporte, Zinchenko; De Bruyne, Rodri, David Silva; Mahrez, Jesus, Sane

Key Stats

  • This is the first FA Cup encounter between Newcastle United and Manchester City since the fifth round in 2001-02, when the Magpies won 1-0 courtesy a goal from Nolberto Solano.
  • Since a run of 16 wins in 18 games against Newcastle across all competitions (D1 L1), Manchester City are winless in their last two against the Magpies (D1 L1). They haven’t failed to win three in a row against them since 2005.
  • This is Newcastle United’s first FA Cup quarter-final appearance since March 2006, when they were beaten 1-0 by Chelsea. They haven’t reached the semi-final since the 2004-05 season.
  • Manchester City have won all of their last nine FA Cup matches with an aggregate scoreline of 35-4. Their last defeat in the competition came in February 2018 in a fifth round contest against Wigan Athletic.
  • Manchester City’s only FA Cup victory at St James’ Park came in the fourth round in 1977, when Joe Royle was amongst the scorers in a 3-1 triumph.

Player to Watch

Miguel Almiron

Almiron has been in red hot form in the FA Cup (Photo by Lindsey Parnaby/AFP/Getty Images)

Almiron has been in red hot form in the FA Cup (Photo by Lindsey Parnaby/AFP/Getty Images)

The Newcastle United midfielder has been in fine form in the FA Cup this season. In fact, Almiron has scored more FA Cup goals than any other Premier League player this season, netting four times in five appearances.

The 26-year-old Paraguayan’s pace and trickery on the ball can cause problems to any defence and with Manchester City looking particularly vulnerable on the left side in the last game, he could cause some serious problems to the defending champions.

Prediction

Newcastle United 1-3 Manchester City

Newcastle United are in a good moment currently, but have a number of key players not fully fit, which would be a problem for Steve Bruce. Manchester City will be licking their wounds after the midweek defeat and will be intent on bouncing back strongly, in order to ensure that they don’t lose their grip on the FA Cup as well.

While the Magpies did manage to hold City to a draw earlier this season in the league, we at The Hard Tackle are expecting Pep Guardiola & co. to bag a straightforward win on Sunday and advance to the final four of the FA Cup.

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